Only in New Orleans could Piety be a scant block away from Desire. And Tennessee Williams isn't the only artist to seize on the peculiarly colorful nomenclature of Crescent City avenues. The latest is John Scofield, a formidable guitarist with a serious jazz pedigree and a maverick streak that has enabled him to make the stretch from Charlie Mingus and Miles Davis to Gov't Mule and Phil Lesh. Scofield's new Piety Street project is something that could only come from such an inquisitive mind: It takes nuggets of traditional gospel and mixes them up with blues, jazz, and a whole lot of New Orleans rhythms and spice, courtesy of some of its leading musical lights. Scofield's just-released Piety Street (Emarcy) features New Orleanians George Porter Jr., the iconic bassist of Meters fame; pianist and vocalist Jon Cleary, an Englishman whose decades down yonder have infected him with the true NOLA spirit; John Boutté, a wonderfully idiosyncratic Big Easy singer; and percussionist Shannon Powell, a vet of Harry Connick's band. Joining them is drummer Ricky Fataar, like Cleary a longtime member of Bonnie Raitt's band. The wonders they perform on gems from the likes of Thomas A. Dorsey, Dorothy Love Coates, and James Cleveland are too numerous to detail here. But suffice it to say they're wicked enough to send the most secular reprobate soaring to a higher plane of musical bliss, the virtual equivalent of a tour of the Jazz Fest's Gospel Tent led by a modern jazz master. At the Dakota, Scofield will be joined by Porter (his third local appearance in just over a month), Cleary, and Fataar. $40 at 7 p.m.; $30 at 9:30 p.m.
Sun., April 12, 2009